This Sunday, November 30, is “New Year’s Day” in the Christian liturgical calendar, as the First Sunday of Advent begins the new lectionary cycle of readings each year. Having just completed Year A, this particular liturgical year is Year B, the list of readings for which begins on page 901 of The Book of Common Prayer. However, as the Episcopal Church now has the option of following the New Revised Common Lectionary (NRCL), which we use in this parish, our Sunday morning readings may vary slightly from those listed in the Prayer Book. Indeed, we share these NRCL readings with many Protestant and Catholic parishes throughout the USA, Canada, and the UK.
Worshippers in today’s liturgy will notice a number of different things, including the Advent Wreath, with its four Advent Sunday candles and the center white Christ Candle for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the 12 days following. We are also using a Plainsong Psalm tone to chant the Psalm for Advent, the same tone that we have used for a number of previous years. The slash ( / ) in the pointing of the Psalm corresponds to the place in the Psalm tone where the notes change; the Cantor will sing the first verse alone and model the Psalm pointing, to which all will respond. Moreover, the Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy) setting for the Advent season is an easy call/response setting; the people will again respond, singing the exact phrases the Cantor sings.